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Dr. Sara’s Top 3 Questions: Weight Loss

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True, we live in a culture that all but demands we have an obsession with our looks, but the search for a perfect swimsuit body is also representative of something bigger – we’re more concerned than ever about being healthy, fit and energized.

And with the demands our modern world places on our time, we feel we have to be these things (healthy, fit and energized) to survive and thrive.

Dr. Sara's Top 3 Questions: Avoid Weight Gain and Hormonal EffectWhile there are many questions to ask when it comes to weight loss, the simple answer to many of them is that your hormones play a huge role in whether you shed or store pounds.

I’m asked a lot of questions on this topic, but here are the top three – I’m guessing they’ve probably crossed your mind, too.

Top 3 Weight-Loss Questions

1. Is weight gain inevitable for aging women?

Woman on Weighing Scale Concerned with Weight Loss and GainThe short answer? No.

That’s not to say your body won’t change, droop and sag in certain ways as gravity takes its toll – or that your metabolism might not slow down a bit – but putting on pounds as you get older isn’t something you have to just accept as “normal.”

For many women, weight gain is the result of hormonal imbalances at work that are interfering with your body’s ability to burn fat efficiently. Combine that with other common conditions that plague the typical aging population – high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular issues – and you’ve got a recipe for extra pudge.

The main thing I try to get across to my patients is that, while you can’t expect to have the body you did at 25 when you’re 55, staying fit and at a healthy weight for your age is possibleif you know what’s going on hormonally and adopt lifestyle habits that support total body health, that is.

2. Vegan, Paleo, Mediterranean – which diet really works for weight loss?

Is there any area more divided among health professionals than diet?

Despite what you may be doing in other areas of your life, how you eat is paramount when it comes to the battle of the bulge. If you follow my work, you know that I’m a big advocate of the paleo-based diet, but I also talk frequently about eating your veggies and the importance of plant-based nutrients.

Woman Eating Right and Healthy Food: VegetablesWhen it comes down to it, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for a weight loss diet. True, if you increase your protein intake, cut out grains and eliminate things like processed foods and sugar, you’re probably going to shed some pounds. But depending on your body’s unique physiology, you might benefit from eating more carbs than the person sitting next to you, or perhaps others can get away with eating more fat than would be beneficial for you.

I generally advise a few groundwork rules, however: Cut the gluten, minimize dairy, opt for lean proteins, up vegetable intake, stick with low-sugar fruits, and reduce processed carbs and sugar as much as possible. Oh, and scale back your alcohol and caffeine intake, too.

A vegan, for example, could still follow this protocol – provided he or she was eating good sources of protein, getting calcium from nondairy sources and not overdoing it on grains.

If you feel like you’re honestly eating clean and not losing the weight, a greater hormonal imbalance might be at play. That’s when it’s time to see your doctor.

3. How do I know if it’s my hormones causing weight gain?

You won’t really know if your hormones are to blame until you get some basic blood work done. Record your symptoms and check in with your physician. See what your medical professionals recommend, but also be prepared to request tests on your own.

You might want to start with the following panel of tests:

  • TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), free T3, free T4, reverse T3
  • Insulin, leptin, glucose
  • Hemoglobin A1C
  • Free and total testosterone, DHEAS
  • Estradiol, progesterone
  • Cortisol
  • IGF-1 (growth hormone)
  • “VAP” Lipid panel

It will probably require time and patience, but you can get to the bottom of stubborn weight gain when it stems from a hormonal issue. The liberating part, too, is that uncovering the root problem might shed light on other symptoms that have been causing you chronic pain or stress.

Reset those hormones, eat clean, minimize stress, and you’ll start seeing your body naturally return to a healthy weight and shape.

Editor’s Note: Want more simple ways to fast track your health? Check out Dr. Sara’s Hormone Cure!

Originally published at SaraGottfriedMD.com.

About the Author

Dr. Sara Gottfried M.D. is a Harvard-educated physician, speaker, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive, and Vitality with The Gottfried Protocol. For the past 20 years, Dr. Gottfried has been dedicated to practicing and helping women feel at home in their bodies.

From the Author

Comments

  1. Nicola

    Marcia, has your doctor run the exedtned thyroid tests on you TSH, Free T3 and Free T4, RT3? Also sounds like the doc might want to feel or do imaging in your thyroid to see if you have any issues with the gland. Is this your GP, an Endo, or a specialist that you’re seeing?I’m a hypothyroid patient myself. When I first got sick, I had the same symptoms, including a choking feeling. My thyroid was very swollen.It would be helpful to see to know what your labs show.

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